Les Misérables (2012)

90435_galStarring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Samantha Barks

Directed by: Tom Hooper

PG-13. 158 mins

An enormous spectacle that will satisfy fans but may exhaust those not already devoted to the cause. Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) brings this famed stage production to the screen using vivid production design and a star-studded cast that doesn’t quite have the pipes of professionals, but the enthusiasm is appreciated. Set in 19th century France, the classic tale follows ex-prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who continues to be hunted by the mean-spirited policeman, Javert (Russell Crowe). Seeking redemption, Valjean takes in Cosette, the young daughter of Fantine (Anne Hathaway), an impoverished factory worker-turned-prostitute. This tale of shattered dreams, sacrifice and revolution packs an emotional punch but Hooper’s poor framing and abysmal cutting make this a frustrating translation that is, literally and figuratively, out of focus. Hooper’s decision to have the actors sing live on set is pleasing to the ears but not the eyes; the film is completely devoid of motion and the bulk of the three-hour epic is shot in blurred, shaky closeup. This technique may have benefited him in the past, but perhaps Hooper should have taken into consideration that this is a musical, after all, and so a bit more theatrics and a larger lens would be much appreciated. Thankfully Hathaway, Redmayne and Barks deliver some touching performances and the Carter-Cohen duo brings some much needed laughter to the dreary tale. I have no doubt that most audiences will be pleased with this holiday offering, but Les Misérables didn’t quite sweep me away because Hooper’s direction proved insistent, rather than inviting – * * 1/2

For those of you shocked by my review, please note that I adore the stage production and.. see this:



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